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Today’s task is only relevant if you make a lot of phone calls in your job. If this is not the case, then you have today off.
For four days now, you’ve been freeing yourself from the clutches of your smartphone. I hope you can already feel the difference and enjoy your increasing independence. You probably also notice how often you think about your smartphone, how much you want to look at it, and how hard it is to remember to NOT take it with you when you don’t need it.
Do NOT give in to these impulses. You can’t do that? You can’t? How will you manage to become successfully independent if you can’t even control this aspect of your life? It may sound trivial, but this is an exercise in discipline and focus – you need both on your journey to more freedom, independence, and self-determination.
So, for today and over the next few days, the good old landline phone, which many people have at home or in the office, will be added.
We humans can hardly bear it when our phone rings, and we don’t answer it. Who might that be? Could it be something important? Oh, someone wants to talk to me, how nice! Is it perhaps good news? Or is it bad news?
Surely, you get annoyed at the doctor’s office, waiting for the receptionist to get off the phone to help you. It’s a bit like someone cutting in front of you in line, isn’t it?
Don’t let a phone cut in front of the things that are really important to you. If the caller has a critical request, they will definitely get back to you. And if not, that’s fine.
That is your task for today and the next weeks:
From today, if you are engaging in focused work, switch your phones to silent or forward them to your answering machine. Then listen to the answering machine and respond to the calls ASAP to let people realize that they can rely on you.
If you forget to switch your phone to silent or redirect it, just let it ring. You’ll probably have to leave your comfort zone to do this, but it’s an excellent exercise to focus on yourself and not be there for everyone at all times.
If a somewhat annoyed colleague stands at your door a few minutes later and asks you why you’re not answering the phone, say calmly: “I was and am currently absorbed in work and would like to finish it without interruption. I would’ve called you back afterward (or would have come by). What time would suit you best?”
Get into the habit of greeting callers and visitors properly when you want to get things done. If you are busy and start with a “Hi, how are you?” don’t be surprised if a conversation develops while you’re sitting on hot coals because you didn’t really want to talk at all; you just wanted to “be nice.” But this is not nice, because you are conveying the wrong message, namely: “Hi, I have time for you.” Save that for those moments when you’ve just finished something important and feel like making small talk.
The motto is here: If you are not interested in the answer, don’t ask the question! This is another healthy chance to move out of your comfort zone, learn new habits, and be more engaging!
Much more honest and productive is: “Hi, what can I do for you?” If the caller/visitor can briefly and concisely express his or her wish, you write it down and say goodbye with the promise to take care of it later. If the person you are talking to insists on engaging further, in a friendly manner, say: “[Name], I’d like to give 100% to you and your issue, but right now I’m in the middle of a job that I’d like to finish. Is it okay if I contact you afterward?”
Second part of the task:
At the end of this series of exercises, write down the most important resolutions for more efficient work with your smartphone, email, etc. as keywords on a piece of paper and place it at your workplace. Don’t hang it on the wall or as a Post-it somewhere because it will become invisible to you. Leave it at your workplace, even if it might get in the way.